In the Connections-based Learning book I share a story of teacher peril where a parent was ticked off at the lack of effectiveness my teaching was having on his son. These are the kinds of situations that we don't like to talk about as educators. It is easy to share out classroom successes, where students demonstrate leaps and bounds in their learning, where classes show initiative in creating effective responses to the inequality or poverty or a need that they see. It isn't as easy to share out a failure. And yet in order to grow, we must reflect on our failures as well. That is why I love this picture:
It is isn't that I like showing off failed 3D printing attempts or that I'm interested in illustrating what a 3D printing fail looks like. I love what this picture represents to me because it came from a student post, a reflection where the student courageously shared his own failure. This is the bravery, the reflection, the vulnerability necessary to spark betterment. This is showing how we must #WorkOutLoud to advance learning by sharing successes but also sharing failures.
The thought for the CBL Voxer Community this week is a reflection on the effects of the incongruence between our teaching philosophy and our practice. It is one thing to espouse giving up control to one's students. It is quite another to actually do it. It is easy to pontificate the need for connections in our teaching. It is something else to actually connect our students.
Here are three thoughts regarding sharing our failures:
Reflection is crucial
If we gloss over our failures, we are bound to repeat them. How often have we made the same mistake over and over again? May I suggest that we never really acknowledged the mistake in the first place and got help. Accountability. Help. Insight. All these are needed for lasting change. We need to honestly reflect on our work and be willing to share. One more thought: often we are asking our students to do just that with their portfolios; shouldn't we be willing to do the same?
When we share out mistakes, we are opening ourselves up to feedback. We get another perspective. And people are often willing to help when you bring down your guard. Feedback is attuned to the product shown. When we truly share, we get the most relevant feedback. When we don't share, we are relying on our own self assessment.
We are all human
It is tough on the psyche when all we hear about are the successes of other people. Whether it is the stream of effective teaching activities on Twitter, the moving life moments shared on Instagram, or the personal successes shared on Facebook, it is overwhelming. Honest sharing brings us back to reality and reminds us that life isn't all unicorns and rainbows. We are all on a journey and our sharing should reflect that.
Here is a picture of the final product created for our lanterns to address the light poverty in the Dominican Republic. The students stayed at it and after many attempts, got it just right.
Where are you working to align your ideal with your practice?